HC Deb 24 February 1938 vol 332 cc512-5
3. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will cause a memorandum to be sent to the staffs of all Employment Exchanges drawing their attention to the existence of the advisory form B1, and instructing them that it is to be issued on request to all unemployed persons who wish to apply for supplementary benefit from the Unemployment Assistance Board?

Mr. E. Brown

Forms in the B1 series are already issued at Employment Exchanges. The appropriate form of application for use by persons in receipt of unemployment benefit is, however, form B.71. This is issued on request by the Employment Exchange if the area office of the Board is not within easy distance by road (normally three miles), but in other cases the applicant is referred direct to the area office for the purpose of making his application.

4. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons in receipt of statutory unemployment benefit drawing supplementary allowances from the Unemployment Assistance Board at the last convenient date?

Mr. Brown

In the week ended 28th January, 1938, allowances from the Unemployment Assistance Board were paid to 8,664 persons in Great Britain in supplementation of payments of unemployment benefit.

8. Lieut.-Commander Tufnell

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the strong general feeling that no man who fought in the Great War should have to seek relief from public assistance authorities, he will consider the possibility of bringing all such men within the scope of the Unemployment Assistance Board?

Mr. Brown

The unemployment assistance scheme is limited to persons under 65 years of age who are capable of and available for work, and have a normal occupation in wage-earning employment. In so far as ex-service men fulfil these conditions they come within the scope of the Unemployment Assistance Board, but the scheme is not designed to deal with persons who do not possess these qualifications.

Mr. George Griffiths

In considering this, will the Minister also consider the colliers who were not allowed to go to the War, and who are in as much need as these men?

Mr. Brown

I regret any attempt to make any distinction between colliers and ex-service men in that way.

12. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister of Labour under which section of the Unemployment Act, 1934, persons in receipt of an unemployment allowance have such allowance reduced in cases where sons or daughters have left home?

Mr. Brown

I assume the hon. Member has in mind cases where a son or daughter with resources leaves home. I am informed by the Board that in no circumstances would their allowance to an applicant be reduced on such an occasion, but that there may be circumstances in which it would not be increased. In such cases the powers of the Board are derived from the duty which falls upon them of determining in the light of all the facts, and subject to the usual rights of appeal, whether the son or daughter has ceased to be a member of the household for the purpose of Section 38 (3) of the Unemployment Act, 1934.

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what the Section and the Sub-section concerned do is to make arrangements for rules and regulations whereby certain standards of allowances shall be paid, and that the regulations have as much legal force as the Act itself? Is he aware that there is no legal power to deprive these men of these increases or to make reductions?

Mr. Brown

I could not agree with that interpretation, because it arises from the fact that the word "household" has never been defined, either in Poor Law or Public Assistance Law. These cases are very few, and cases where the interpretation of the word "household" acts to the benefit of the applicant are very many.

Mr. Lawson

On what grounds are these people being deprived of these sums?

Mr. Brown

The question is as to whether they are or are not members of the household.

Mr. T. Smith

Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to lay on the Table of the House a copy of the instructions in this matter?

Mr. Brown

I shall be quite prepared to consider that, but the House must understand that this is a case of the meaning of the word "household." It would be very difficult to read the thing another way without inflicting hardship.

Mr. Lawson

How can a boy or a girl be a member of the household when in some cases they are not living in the same town?

Mr. Brown

That applies equally to an applicant who leaves home for the purpose of securing work, in which case the allowance is still granted.

20. Mr. Batey

asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed persons receiving payments under the Unemployment Assistance Board in the County of Durham on the latest available date?

Mr. Brown

In the week ended 11th February, 1938, allowances from the Unemployment Assistance Board were paid to 47,908 persons in the County of Durham (exclusive of payments in supplementation of insurance benefit).

Mr. Batey

Will the Minister say what is being done for those men?

Mr. Brown

I cannot go into that at Question Time.

31. Mr. Whiteley

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has now considered his answer as promised to a deputation from the Trades Union Congress and the Mineworkers Federation who met him on 20th January, 1938?

Mr. Brown

I have now received details of the unemployment assistance cases which the deputation undertook to send to me, and they are being investigated by the Unemployment Assistance Board. I will communicate the result of these inquiries to the Trades Union Congress General Council at the earliest possible moment.